Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator. May it be your backup when your hard drive fails. Computer problems abound this week as it has taken me a couple of days to get to the point where I can generate my numbers and then type them up. Not to worry! A new computer is on the way but till that time I’ll have to make due. It is amazing to me how anyone gets by in technical land. I consider myself fairly adept at this craft. After all, I have a Computer Science degree and have been involved in the computer revolution since its infancy, always upgrading to the latest. Even though I’m a svelte 37, I started with punch card readers and have owned and coded on the TI-99A, TRS80, VIC20, C-64, IBM PC, PC-XT, PC-AT, 80286, 80386-SX16, 80486, Pentium, PII, PIII and P4, not to mention the various main frames along the way like the Alpha Micro, PDP-11, DEC VAX, Corvus and heck, toss in UNIX based OS’s like Linux, IBM-RS, Solaris and HP-UX for kicks. I’ve been there and done that and still, I scratch my head as to why my CD-Burner doesn’t work. In this age of popup ads, viruses, spyware and spam it’s amazing people don’t run from the internet in droves after their computer freezes after some auto dialer spyware takes hold of their network port and their dial up costs sky rocket because their neighbor hijacked their wireless router. I advocate safe sex and it seems to me that someone needs to start selling digital condoms at 7-11 because it is nasty out here. As usual, the handful of idiots are ruining it for the rest of us.
Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers Sunday 1:00pm
I’ve ridden Kerry Collins the last two weeks but jump off the bandwagon this week as I expect a very average day from Kerry. There will of course be some story somewhere about him being the Panthers first pick ever made and revenge but that was a long time ago. So much water has passed under the bridge that those feelings have long washed away. Amos Zereoue is getting it done in the passing game but running the football has been difficult for him as his yards per carry is very low. The Raiders simply can’t wait to get him out of there. One thing Zereoue has proven though is that he makes a capable third down back and with special teams, may have played his way back into the NFL. Stay away from your Raiders this week unless you’re desperate.
I guess it is just one of those feelings but thinking back to the beginning of the season, the Panthers D was touted as a brick wall. Nothing was supposed to get through these guys with arguably the best front four in football. Yet, here we are after Week 8 and the Panthers are readily available in free agency in most leagues because they have flat out sacked. Please don’t confuse the word sacked with anything to do with pulverizing the opposing QB, think of it more as a word being spoken with a New England accent. Like I said, it is just a feeling I get but I think this week the Panthers D plays up to their early billing for the first time this season. The Panthers have fallen harder than any other team out there. For those that have managed to forget, the Panthers picked apart the Patriots D last year in the Superbowl and were a possession away from winning the game. How the mighty have fallen. Teams like the Panthers are dangerous because in their death throws, they occasionally put together a stellar game.
Stephen Davis continues to look hobbled so look for the Panthers to run a variety of cast members and throw the ball to Keary Colbert when the running game stumbles. Best stat of the contest will be the Panthers running game.
Prediction: Panthers 15 – Raiders 14
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday 1:00pm
To say the Chiefs are on a roll would be like saying start Priest Holmes. Expect a lot from Priest Holmes this week as he delivers the mail and licks the stamp too. Look for the Chiefs offensive line to push the Bucs backward and open up running lanes wider than a five lane highway.
The Bucs are not going to be sissy’s. In fact, they’re going to play the Chiefs tight and tough. The word on the street is that the Chiefs can be run on and the Buccaneers will be running Michael Pittman hard on Sunday. The real word from the progno is that the Bucs are actually going to go up top as they’ll need to keep pace with the Chiefs which means a big day for Michael Clayton and a decent day for Brian Griese. Michael Pittman will still be involved but look for more receiving yards than rushing yards from Pittman this week. Mark my words though, we’re a week or two away from Brian Griese‘s annual self implosion.
Prediction: Chiefs 28 – Buccaneers 24
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday 1:00pm
I posted this prediction early in the week in the Shark Tank and took some heat for it from our Eagles faithful. It’s not that I dislike the Eagles and it’s not that I think the Eagles are a bad team. Far from it on both counts. I in fact like the Eagles and think they’re a great team. The problem here is the Steelers. You will remember that I had the Steelers upsetting the Patriots last week because I said, “The Patriots won’t be able to stop Duce Staley.” pair that with what the Steelers can do in the air and it didn’t add up for the Patriots. I also went on a limb and took the Ravens to upset the Eagles. I didn’t nail that prediction, but I was one untimely Chester Taylor fumble away from picking that upset correctly so I feel fairly confident I’m currently in a good place with both the Eagles and Steelers.
The problem for the Eagles is that they come into this game matched up against the Steelers almost exactly like the Patriots did. The similarities are too uncanny to ignore. The Eagles are undefeated, on the road and are playing without their star RB, just like the Patriots. The Eagles have been soft against the run and to date, till Brian Westbrook pulled up lame, this has been the only kink in their armor which the Steelers most certainly have the personnel to expose. Look for another big day from Duce Staley as they send Staley up the middle early and often. When they get sick of that, they’ll send Jerome Bettis up the middle to soften the interior even more. By the fourth quarter the Steelers will be dictating how they bring the game to the Eagles.
On the Eagles side you never take Donovan McNabb or Terrell Owens out of the game, especially they way TO has been playing. They are the offense and they will do well against the Steelers who are easier to throw on than run on. The question for the Eagles will be, can they absorb the punishment they’ll take and still be able to hold the Steelers offense in the 4th quarter? I say no.
**Edited 11/7 11:54am: Duce Staley Inactive for this game.
Prediction: Steelers 34 – Eagles 31
Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals Sunday 1:00pm
You have to really like Eddie George in this and this may be the only chance you get to play him this season. He had a very strong day last week and against the arguably worst run D in the league, the Cowboys are going to send Eddie up the middle all day long. Expect an average day from Keyshawn Johnson and crew as the Cowboys focus on pounding the ball.
The Bengals may very well lose this game. The numbers point to a Bengals victory at home but if the Cowboys come in with a smart game plan and have a strong day anticipating and calling the right D plays at the right time, they’ll get the best of the Bengals. It all revolves around whether the Cowboys can call the right plays to get the right match ups. Carson Palmer hasn’t been given the green light to change all the plays yet as he is still learning. If he could call a lot of audibles that would seal the deal for the Bengals but they aren’t there yet with Palmer.
Prediction: Bengals 28 – Cowboys 20
Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins Sunday 1:00pm
The Cardinals are really enjoying the fact that they have Anquan Boldin back so that they can go three wide and cause havoc with DB mismatches and they are also enjoying their running game. Emmitt Smith and Troy Hambrick are combining for some sick rushing numbers. The Dolphins have a stout D but even they will have their hands full with the Cardinals HUGE O-Line. The Cardinals achilles heel could be at QB.
Look for the Dolphins to struggle against the Cardinals resurgence. Sure the Cards stunk it up last week but I do not feel they’re completely ready to mail in the season yet.
Prediction: Cardinals 24 – Dolphins 20
Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions Sunday 1:00pm
This is shaping up to be a very ugly game as both teams have a better defense than offense. The Redskins will run Clinton Portis even though the Lions will keep him tamed. The Lions of course are waiting for Roy Williams to return but either way, the Redskins D is solid and the Lions will have a tough go of it.
Lions edge the Redskins as they have home field advantage and are a little better balanced on offense but no big statistics will be found in this contest unless someone like Az-zahir Akhim shakes loose. Still, nothing you would want to rest your hat on.
Prediction: Lions 23 – Redskins 21
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Sunday 1:00pm
The Jets will want to rush Curtis Martin but one wonders how much action Lamont Jordan will see. I get the feeling the Jets are auditioning Lamont Jordan for trade bait and they want to increase his value. Even though the Bills are tough to run on, look for the Jets to try and run with the ball and have moderate success.
The Bills throw Willis McGahee into the mix and it appears to be a good thing. The Bills caught a spark last week and played well. Expect the upset here as the AFC East always play each other tight and this one is in Orchard Park. Everyone expects the Jets to win but I’ve predicted too many AFC East games to know that the best course of action is to throw away everything you know about both teams, put them on equal footing, and then make adjustments to your thoughts. Forget the Jets have only lost 1 game as it is completely irrelevant here.
Prediction: Bills 23 – Jets 17
New Orleans Saints at San Diego Chargers Sunday 4:05pm
The Saints have pockets of talent on their team. Aaron Brooks, Joe Horn and Deuce McAllister can play. Expect fair numbers from all three this week as the Saints try and get it done with their money makers. I call Jerome Pathon‘s number quite often in this article with success but this isn’t one of those Pathon weeks.
Well, it took everyone a long time to catch onto our little secret but the Chargers, for the very first time, are finally getting the respect they deserve after eight weeks of being undervalued. We picked the Charger upset week in and week out just to have it roll in like the tide. Look for a hammering by the Chargers as they run and pass at will. Keenan McCardell will get in on the action but it is no surprise that Eric Parker has been coming on strong lately the way this offense is gelling. If you play 3 WR’s, think about Parker as your 3rd.
Prediction: Chargers 37 – Saints 28
Chicago Bears at New York Giants Sunday 4:05pm
This contest will come down to running on both sides of the ball. Watch IR and if Thomas Jones starts, go ahead and play him as a #2 RB this week. Anthony Thomas makes a serviceable replacement for your fantasy squad if he gets the nod. Do not even think about starting a Bear QB or WR.
The Giants will match with some running of their own. Tiki Barber will once again put up some numbers to keep your fantasy squad humming. Do not look for a big passing week from the Giants as Barber will be all that they need.
Prediction: Giants 24 – Bears 17
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Sunday 4:05pm
This is going to be a really dumb prediction. I know it. The Seahawks are going to have great success with Shaun Alexander and he is a must start of course as he will be putting up some solid numbers for you. When Alexander needs a break the Seahawks will be able to move the ball in the air though not as easily as on the ground.
The 49’ers were shut out by the Seahawks defense earlier in the season but if Tim Rattay plays, the 49’ers are going to play hard and well at home as they play like a completely different team when Rattay is under center. It sounds like Rattay will be able to go and if he does, expect Brandon Lloyd and Eric Johnson to have big days on their way to upsetting the Seahawks and revenging the shutout. If Ken Dorsey gets the starting nod then kiss your 49’ers and this game goodbye because it’ll be another shutout.
Prediction: 49’ers 23 – Seahawks 20
New England Patriots at St. Louis Rams Sunday 4:15pm
The Patriots are reeling due to their injuries and while Bill Belicheck is creative, even his smoke and mirrors are starting to show. Ty Law out for a month leaves inexperience and age in the Patriots secondary and the last thing they need right now are the Rams. The Patriots will be fine and will get Ty Law back for the stretch run and the playoffs but the next three weeks and last week, happen to be the hardest stretch on their schedule and this was the worst time to lose Law. Corey Dillon sat last week out and they need him desperately to nail down the offense.
Look for a huge day from the Rams passing game as they prey on the Patriots secondary. Play ’em if you got ’em because it ain’t gonna be purdy.
Prediction: Rams 27 – Patriots 23
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos Sunday 4:15pm
The Texans bring their passing game to Mile High and it is a good one. David Carr is getting it done by passing the ball around to everyone. I never knew Jabbar Gaffney could actually catch. The Texans will play the Broncos tough.
The problem for the Texans is that the Broncos were stung last week even though Jake Plummer threw for almost 500 yards. What that should tell the world is that the Broncos are coming into this week with a full head of steam and confidence in their passing game and you should expect a lot from Jake Plummer, Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie. Reuben Droughns will not be a slouch either and will have a good game.
Prediction: Broncos 21 – Texans 20
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Sunday 8:30pm
I know the Ravens D is scary but the Browns appear to be onto something by splitting William Green and Lee Suggs. Together, they’re one of the best RB running and receiving duos in the league. The Ravens are nothing to sneeze at and they will be bringing the heat but the Browns will have some successes in their drives. The Browns effectively shut down Jamal Lewis earlier in the season but expect a better performance from Lewis as he is well rested coming off his suspension. Jamal Lewis will be relieved to get the drug peddling incident behind him and it will show. The Ravens are ripe for the upset.
Prediction: Browns 23 – Ravens 21
Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts Monday 9:00pm
It sounds like neither uber receiver Randy Moss nor new found squirt back Mewelde Moore will go this weekend which opens up the door for all us Michael Bennett and Onterrio Smith owners. Watch the news wire closely as not even I, the great prognosticator (hee!), has a clue how Mike Tice is about to mess this one up. Whomever runs will run well and do not worry about Daunte Culpepper as he will have a decent day throwing the rock to Marcus Robinson and Nate Burleson. Either make a decent start this week.
The Colts will be throwing the ball and putting the game in Peyton Manning‘s capable hands. Look for another great day from Marvin Harrison as there is no one that can cover him on the Vikings unless it means covering him with victory champagne. Expect an unseasonably quiet day out of Edgerrin James.
Prediction: Colts 31 – Vikings 24